The Preakness, horse by horse
Eddie Mac reviews the contenders for Saturday's $1 million Preakness Stakes.
Probable Preakness favorite strikes me as an underlay who seems vulnerable to regressing. After a career-best win in the Arkansas Derby, he ran his eyeballs out for the final half-mile of the Derby and understandably ran out of gas in deep stretch. If he had nothing left late only two weeks before, can he bounce back? At a short price, always say no to that question. He's the most accomplished and consistent horse in the field, but to expect another strong effort is asking a lot. Could be the time to stay off this hard-knocking, versatile colt.
Of all the horses near the Derby's blazing early pace, he was the only one to finish in the money. Worked well at Belmont and might be able to hold his good form in only his third start off a layoff. Has the tactical speed usually favored in the Preakness, and he belongs in exotic plays. He won't be 7-1, let alone 71-1, but his odds may be higher than they should be.
He's been a flop against New York-breds this year, so why throw him into a classic? Will be a pace casualty if he's good enough to get near the early lead, which I'm not sure he is.
He's the most disrespected Derby winner since Gato Del Sol in 1982. How odd that the winner of America's Race takes abuse for being the last horse standing. The speed-figure gurus are unforgiving calculators. The pace setup won't drop the Preakness into his lap, but I could see him grinding on to be third or fourth. Unless you had him to win at 50-1, which eliminates almost everybody, it's very tough to bet him at 5-1 or 6-1.
After burning himself out near the lead in the Wood and the Derby, he'll go for the early burnout Triple Crown with an encore at Pimlico. He could soften up some of the other speed, particularly High Limit, but that seems like the limit of his ability at this level. No chance.
Makes his graded-stakes debut off a six-week layoff, which is rather bizarre. Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. has performed dozens of miracles with recent claims, but he won't do it here.
Was nowhere in the Derby after blowing away nobodies in fast time in the Illinois Derby, more likely a fluke instead of a major breakthrough. Probably will be up near the pace with High Limit and Going Wild, so they could all fry each other. If he's willing to rate, as he did at Hawthorne, he might give longshot players a thrill as the field turns into the stretch. For exotics, not the worst stab in the race.
Florida-based colt was 1-for-15 before taking an ungraded stakes at Calder three weeks ago. Throwing him into his first graded stakes here is delusional. His figures are uncompetitive and he doesn't belong in a classic.
Ran well for a mile in the Derby, even briefly taking a short lead at the top of the stretch, before packing it in. Has the tactical speed and rider (Jerry Bailey) to be dangerous, and should move forward in his second race off a five-week layoff. He's a battler who should be able to work out a good trip, and he's 5-for-7 with two Grade I wins at 1 1/8 miles. Solid contender.
Need-to-lead type gets first-time blinkers after running badly when he couldn't get to the front early in the Blue Grass and the Derby. Yes, the brilliant Bobby Frankel is calling the shots, but this colt still has never beaten a quality horse and appears to need everything to go his way. I won't be using him.
No Maryland-based horse has won the Preakness since the mudder Deputed Testamony did it in 1983, and this colt won't break that streak. Won the Tesio at Pimlico from off the pace, but he beat nothing. His numbers are weak and he won't do.
Liked his chances as a Derby longshot but he was checked hard early and never got involved. I'll forgive that dud, his first bad race on dirt, and his strong work Monday indicates he's bounced back well. Has the best distance pedigree in the field and might be able to spring the upset from midpack. I'll be disappointed if he doesn't at least hit the board. Looks like a contender at generous odds.
Quick miler type may contribute to the pace but I don't see him being in the mix at the eighth pole. Both his career bests, including his win last time in the Withers, were on tracks rated good, so he may need off ground to do his best. I'm not interested.
Followed his Blue Grass flop with another no-show in the Derby. May have been the most overrated 3-year-old this spring, because he was No. 1 in many Derby polls in March despite never having beaten a top-class horse. Except for the worthless Tampa Bay Derby, he's 0-for-4 in graded stakes. He's winless past 1 1/16 miles and could be turning into a horse of the future whose tomorrow never comes.
Yes, he's a game little guy, but except for his fluky upset in the Juvenile, he's been only a gritty also-ran. His backers will be tempted to keep the faith after his mediocre sixth in the Derby, but I don't like his chances.